Monday, February 25, 2008

5 Reasons the Comic Book Industry Deserves to Die

1. Giant, Plodding Crossovers-
Crossovers accomplish two things for comic book companies. First, they instill a sense of the epic. Having a story that is too big to be told within the framework of a single title gives the reader a sense of the vastness of the universe that houses their favorite characters. It shows readers that the actions of their favorite characters have far reaching consequences; that what their heroes do (or don't do) really matters. Conversely, when a character has his/her own book and is forced to deal with the actions of other characters in other comics, it has a tendency to water down characterization. Not only does it become an issue of too much going on at once, but it turns our heroes into reactionaries. I read comics for the myth. A young boy, after witnessing his parents' violent murder, takes on the mantle of a bat and metes revenge on the world of crime. Holy shit. That is something I can really get behind. But I have to read about why Batgirl and Green Arrow are bickering, instead.

Second, crossovers are a tried and true way to boost sales. They instill the sense of vastness that the canon-obsessed superfans demand. It is here, though, that the big companies are missing the forest for the trees. By occupying the well known, iconic titles with canon heavy crossover stories, the big publishers are insuring that new readers that pick up the book have no clue what the fuck is going on. I know they summarize what has gone before, but fuck summaries. Comics are, by their nature, a medium that was meant to be immediately immersive. They are basically building barriers that keep casual readers out. In order to foster growth, for every large scale epic, there should be at least two jumping on points to get new readership involved. Which, at least partially, brings me to point #2.

2. Lack of Commitment to New Ideas
I can't tell you the number of times I have passed on buying something new that looked really cool because I didn't have faith in the publisher to see it through to completion. It is understandable that such a fledgling industry must be selective in allocating valuable resources, but I can't abide leaving stories, once begun, unfinished. Publishers are not always to blame either. I think this problem is just as attributable to fickle creators.

3. Fickle Creators
Your favorite artist or writer is going to draw or write your favorite character for your favorite book! This is going to take things in a whole new direction and completely change the character! Awesome! Then once you settle in and really start to trust in where s/he is taking things, s/he will get a better deal to go do something else! Coo--wait, what? Sadly, I think that legendary runs are a thing of the past.

4. The Speculator Boom
Nothing really defines the ugliness that the comic book industry is capable of quite like the Speculator Boom years (1985-1993). In this period, originality was large scrapped in favor of gimmicks like sealed polybags, multiple covers, and the supposed deaths of iconic characters that publishers guaranteed as great investments. To meet high demand for these books, publishers printed them in record numbers. With so many copies in circulation, the effect was the opposite. The bottom fell out of the industry, tons of stores had to close, and Marvel even had to declare bankruptcy. In short, the industry got greedy and the fans allowed themselves to be suckered. Everyone ended up looking kind of dick.

5. Sleepwalker
Man, Sleepwalker sucked. Look at him. He looked like a fetus.

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